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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 21-Apr-23

Summer 2023 | ENV-1230-VO01 - Current Environmental Issues

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 05-23-2023 to 08-14-2023
Last day to drop without a grade: 06-12-2023 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 07-10-2023 - Refund Policy
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration


Fred Kosnitsky
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Catherine Garland

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following VSC General Education Requirement(s) for Catalog Year 21-22 and later:
Natural Science
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course investigates the science that underpins environmental issues. It also analyzes these issues from a variety of different perspectives, including the legal, ethical, political, sociological, and economic considerations that combine to shape our understanding of environmental issues and their possible solutions.

Essential Objectives

1. Examine the scientific research behind environmental issues.
2. Investigate environmental and natural resource management issues on the regional, national, and global scale as they relate to forestry, mining, wildlife, and recreation.
3. Examine the relationship between the scientific study of environmental issues and the creation and enforcement of environmental policy and regulation.
4. Examine the division of jurisdiction and environmental management responsibility between federal, state, and local government.
5. Discuss current environmental issues from the lens of sociocultural perspectives, ethical influences, and racial disparities.
6. Analyze how politics and economics influence the ways that environmental problems develop and how we respond to environmental issues.
7. Analyze the accuracy with which environmental issues are reported in a variety of sources and discuss why widely different perspectives on the same environmental issues are reported.
8. Discuss the origins of national environmental laws and evaluate the processes that create international treaties (including The Clean Air and Water Acts, NEPA, Endangered Species Act, The Paris Accord, and The Kyoto and Montreal Protocols).
9. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding, interpreting, applying, and evaluating the accuracy of data and information sources, and extrapolating quantitative data.
10. Explain how knowledge created in the natural sciences has contributed to the creation, maintenance and dismantling of social inequalities and discuss the impacts of diversity and inclusion on scientific research and practice.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

This course uses one or more textbooks/books/simulations, along with free Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials.

Summer 2023 textbook/book details will be available on 2022-11-28. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be specific to this class. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks/books.

ENV-1230-VO01 Link to Textbooks for this course in eCampus.

For Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials details, see the Canvas Site for this class.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.


For this course we will base our weekly modules on three texts (The Carbon Almanac, The Climate Book, and The Ministry for the Future), selected other short readings, and weekly short videos (such as Ted Talks, clips from documentaries, etc.).

Each week there will be a writing assignment covering the content of the Module and a chance to analyze and synthesize the material.

Some weeks we will use a Discussion group where you can interact with fellow students and their work.

Each student will also choose a research topic and submit an 8 - 10 page paper on their approved topic at the end of the course.

Evaluation Criteria

Students will be evaluated on the quality and completeness of their assignments and final paper.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Introduction to the course and The Basics of Climate: what climate is, what causes the pattern of regional and global climate, and how climate changes over time.


readings and videos TBA


Writing Assignment #1



What is Global Warming - a closer look at the atmosphere, the sun, and how humans are affecting the climate of the past 10,00 years.


Readings and videos TBA.


Writing Assignment #2



What causes climate change? A more detailed look at the human activities that cause global warming and the feedback loops that magnify or dampen the changes we create.


Readings and videos TBA.


Week 3 assignment.



The impacts of global warming and climate change - heat waves, droughts, floods, intense storms, ocean acidification, sea level rise, mass migrations, biodiversity loss, and all the other usual suspects.


Readings and videos TBA.


Discussion #1 - What should be the priorities for dealing with this wide range of impacts?



How can we mitigate the effects of climate change? How can we reduce emissions? How can nature help us?


Readings and videos TBA.


Writing Assignment #5



A brief history of how the world has responded to global warming and climate change - what we have done, what we haven't done, and Why!


Readins and videos TBA.


Writing Assignment #6.



Drawdown: Carbon Sequestration and the Geoengineering Debate.


Readings and videos TBA.


Discussion #2 - You are an advisor to the President, and he is considering authorizing seeding the atmosphere with sulphate particulates and seeding the open oceans with iron in an effort to reduce rising temperatures. In an essay of a couple of pages give him the pros and cons and your final recommendation. Comment on the work of several classmates.



Climate adaptation. How do we deal with impacts already here and prepare for things getting even worse?


Readings and videos TBA.


Writing Assignment #8



Loss and Damage - What do the rich nations (historically high emitters) owe the poor nations?


Readings and videos TBA.


Discussion #3 - What do the rich/historically high emitters owe the poor/historically low emitters and Why?



The Psychology and Economics of Action/Inaction -
What gets in the way of really dealing with climate issues effectively?


Readings and videos TBA.


Discussion #4 - What strategies can leaders use to overcome the psychological barriers to effective climate action? Comment on the suggestions of several classmates.



What Can I Do? Beyond Individual Behavior Change - How can you magnify your power as an agent of change? Strategies to make a difference in a climate stressed world.


Readings and videos TBVA.


Writing assignment #11



Polishing and submitting Research Papers


Canvas Commons tutorials


Research Paper due


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

Since we are online and asynchronous, your participation will be measured with your submission of assignments and discussions, and the final research paper.

Missing & Late Work Policy

All assignments are expected to be completed and submitted by their due dates. Understanding that you all have lives and obligations and circumstances that may sometimes get in the way of being on time, I will consider extensions without penalty for those who contact me ahead of time and we agree on an extension.

Otherwise, late work will be graded as usual and have a 10% penalty the first week and a 20% penalty after the first week late.

Any missing work will receive a 0 for that assignment.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.